Re: [asa] Lawrence Krauss Defends New Atheism

From: Merv Bitikofer <>
Date: Sat Jun 27 2009 - 12:02:44 EDT

Iain, I totally agree with you that special divine activity of this
[virgin birth] sort is out of reach for any speculative probability
assessment. I wasn't trying to set up a formal Occam's razor
comparison, but was in a less formal sense saying that other simple
explanations do exist. I shouldn't have used the comparative form
"simpler" since it is comparing apples and oranges. It ends up being
merely an expression of what your bias is prior to any science coming on
board. Some would claim that the science *is* the source of their bias
in this, and they can claim that kind of inductive support. But to
strengthen it to a logical proposition that is proven is a classic
logical fallacy.

In reply to Schwarzwald, I also don't dispute that the allegedly
"scientific" objections to special events like virgin birth are just
silly nonsense. All science can say is that we have never observed such
an event and may not have any speculation on how such a thing could
happen. Which logically doesn't begin to touch the *entirely different*
assertion: "such a thing never happened". Most folks on this site
hammer away at this point (and very correctly so.)


Iain Strachan wrote:
> On Sat, Jun 27, 2009 at 1:55 PM, Merv Bitikofer<> wrote:
>> Alexanian, Moorad wrote:
>> The virgin birth is peanuts compared with the notion of a Creator God. I
>> never quite understood why that issue is ever brought up. The virgin birth
>> must be something to be doubted only by atheists.
>> Moorad
>> ___
>> Playing atheist's advocate here...
>> Yes, but it's also peanuts for hyperbole, hagiography, and general "story
>> growth" to work its way into cultural "memory" even over a single human life
>> span. Atheists don't doubt that an existing God could do what he wants.
>> What they doubt (other than His existence obviously) is that the event
>> actually happened as recorded in some of the gospels. To atheists, it's a
>> matter of choosing the simpler explanation.
> It really depends on what you mean by simpler! Choosing the simplest
> explanation, ie the appeal to Occam's Razor, can ultimately be framed
> in probabilistic terms. The simpler explanation is the more probable
> explanation (I can even point you to the paper in David J.C. MacKay's
> (son of Donald MacKay of "Clockwork Image" fame) PhD thesis that
> shows this if you're interested! Now if one adopts a purely
> naturalist view then it's clear that this is the right thing to do (or
> the best bet if you will). This is because one can apply
> probabilistic reasoning to the natural world. However, if one
> postulates a supernatural realm with a Creator God who intervenes in
> the action, then there is no way one can invoke probability, or
> speculate about the probability of existence of such a being. That is
> why God is not found in speculations about Intelligent Design, but
> through revelation of himself through special events like the
> incarnation, virgin birth, speaking to the prophets etc. None of
> these, I suggest can be assigned probabilities, and hence aren't
> amenable to the "picking the simpler explanation" argument.
> Iain

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Received on Sat Jun 27 12:03:32 2009

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